Category: Blog


If you have followed NfMH for any length of time, you have seen many attempts at projects and self improvement.  Many of them have failed in the end.  I always mean well.  I think this one may have some traction.

In an effort to prevent ‘wasted’ days, I am now living with the following three objectives every day: Create, Learn, Minimize/Maintain.

Every day I WILL create something.  This includes photography, writing in my journal, and yes, posting here.

Every day I WILL learn something. My primary focus is learning Spanish via Rosetta Stone.  I have had the program for years and never gotten very far.  On days when this is not feasible I plan to focus on reading something non-fiction.

Every day I WILL minimize something from my life.  Today I took two bags of clothing to the thrift store and sold a camera on eBay.  On days when I am not home (and therefore unable to clean out) I will focus on maintaining my surroundings via cleaning or simple improvements.

I have been quietly succeeding for a week now.  I find that these three small things make me feel as if I have accomplished something, no matter what else happens to the day.

Bus life

It’s Halloween. Craziness reigned today. We had to retrieve the truck from the shop. In Salem. Did I mention that it was Halloween?

Soccer game (5-1 loss), frantic search for smoke machine and inflatable cat for the yard, cook dinner. . .

Kiddo dressed as a TARDIS and went off with her friend who is the 11th Doctor.  I am a man in a white van with candy.

I may not have completely thought this through. . .

Our driveway is long, dark and scary, so every year we set up at the street end to hand out candy. The first group of kids has passed. I can hear the toddlers shrieking in the next block.

But right here right now, it is so quiet I can hear the quartz clock ticking. Acorns are falling in the woods, and I just heard my neighbor’s boiler turn off.

Peace is where you find it. Watch out for zombies and men in white vans!

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I used to write a lot. This blog started out with stories from work and evolved to chronicle my life. Along the way it became a photography blog, dabbling in a 365 Project, 52 Cameras, and most recently a roll-a-week project.

But lately it’s been nothing. Zip. Nada. I’ve largely broken the Facebook addiction, but my online time has been devoted to Twitter and Instagram. Even there I am more a lurker than a participant.

NFMH has lost focus.

Objectively life has been pretty good. Fourteen months ago, we made the decision to straighten out our finances. We cut up our credit cards, set a strict budget, learned to cash flow life, and paid off $[redacted large number] of debt. Today I don’t owe anyone a cent beyond the mortgage on our house. It feels wonderful.

Everyone is healthy; school is going well. The oldest cats have achieved a colony record age of 15 ½ years and show no signs of stopping. The dog lies curled at my feet as I write this.

Yet my days are occupied with putting out one fire after another. (Not literally – that I might enjoy.) Our home, our vehicles, our stuff. The infrastructure of life takes up all of my waking time and I hate it.

Like the blog, I too have lost focus.

Wil Wheaton had a good post the other day entitled “Seven Things I Did to Reboot My Life.” They don’t translate directly to me, but they did inspire. Without further preamble, and shamelessly cribbed from Wil, here are my latest goals:

Read more & write more – Time spent with a book is good. Time spent with a book and my dog (and maybe a good beer) in front of the pellet stove is the definition of a good winter’s evening. Writing doesn’t just happen right now; it needs to be planned.  Dog, stove & beer help.

Spend more time with my photography – Specifically, spend more time in the darkroom printing, and organize my images. Again, a good beer is helpful. I don’t need to make more images or play with different cameras. I need to refine and get a grip on what I have.

Eat better & exercise – I’m the heaviest I have ever been. I have had 15 or so extra pounds for years; lately it’s closer to 20. That ends now. I never feel better than after a good workout, yet I don’t get to the gym as often as I should. That ends now too.

And finally, the STUFF. I have a fuzzy goal here and no plan. For a couple years we have tried to get it under control. Things aren’t getting worse, but we are not improving much either. It’s easier said than done.

I’m throwing it all out here in hopes that a public pronouncement will help me keep on track. Stay tuned.

Now I’m off to pack my gym bag and a lunch for work tomorrow.


Every summer we swear we will keep the craziness in check.  We will limit our activities and commitments.  This year we really meant it.  We limited the number of horse shows and trips we had planned.  Things were looking and feeling good.

And yet. . .

Saturday: First day with Kiddo back from her grandparents’. Mrs. Mack505 left for her horse show in the morning and Kiddo and I spent the day packing the bus for the next day.  Errands and chores ate the whole day.

Sunday: Depart for mountains in the bus. Hike a couple miles in the rain. Picnic in Intervale. Set up VW in camp and enjoy evening thunder showers from inside.

Monday: Drive bus (slowly) up Pinkham Notch to Wildcat Mountain.  Ride gondola to summit with Kiddo and FeistyCricket.  Photograph and hike a bit.  Putt home in the bus with growing mechanical issues.

Tuesday: Interview old-school VW mechanic and book appointment. Drive to horse show on other side of the state.  Fast, quiet, and air conditioned; definitely not driving the Westfalia.  Stay over with Mrs. Mack505 in big RV at the fairgrounds.

Wednesday: Depart fairgrounds at 0430.  Work for 24.

Thursday: Early morning MD appointment.  Fix flat and fit new saddlebags to motorcycle. Drive to southern NH to re-register speeder and ATV. Pull speeder from storage and prep for weekend. Take motorcycle for shakedown run and ice cream. [Type blog post.]

Looking forward:

Friday: Work 24 hours.

Saturday: In-service training on new ladder truck at RFD. Drive back to mountains and set up camp with tent.

Sunday: Volunteer at CSRR with speeder for Day Out With Thomas. Drive back home.

Monday: Volunteer at trolley museum.

Yup, less crazy.


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Week 22 – WOW!

I have slowed my camera collecting recently and have even de-accessioned pieces which I don’t care about. This spring I spent a few weeks watching a Craigslist ad for a Mamiyaflex C2, and when it didn’t move I gave the owner a call. I have heard great things about Mamiya TLRs.

At first blush I was nonplussed. The Mamiyaflex is bigger and heavier than either of my Yashica TLRs. Its primary distinguishing feature is the ability to change lenses. I only have the stock 80mm portrait lens, so this didn’t mean much to me. I shot a roll then set both the camera and the film aside for later.

This week I finally got around to developing it, and wow!


I know that the camera is only partially responsible, but this is one of the best images I have made in quite a while. I need to find time to print this. The rest of the roll was also very good.



Closed for season201506_Mamiyaflex_011

Bridge to nowhere201506_Mamiyaflex_010

Rail trail201506_Mamiyaflex_008



North wing201506_Mamiyaflex_003

Authorized personnel only201506_Mamiyaflex_002Bark mulch

Camera: Mamiyaflex C2 with 80mm lens

Film: HP5+ developed in D76 1+1 12:00 20C

Hey, it’s an adventure!

Simplify. The modern mantra. We have too much stuff, too many demands on our time. Our family has joined the cause, sending things to the thrift shop and pledging to be less busy.

Mrs. Mack505 has a horse show this week. It’s in Syracuse.  School ended yesterday, I was scheduled for a 24 hour shift today, and we all need to be in Buffalo on Friday.

I managed to swap my 24 for three overnights.  It means I haven’t slept at home since last Thursday and I’m exhausted, but I don’t have to arrange care for Kiddo today.  One issue solved.

Driving 2 cars to Buffalo so we can drive home separately on the same day seems at least silly and perhaps stupid. I hit upon the idea of a jaunt to NYC for Kiddo and me. We will spend a bit seeing the sights before hopping another train to BUF.  Another win.

We get to ride the Acela and see New York. It’ll be a great adventure!

Uh huh. Sure.

The Acela broke south of Providence. We crawled as far as Old Saybrook, CT before being transferred to an already-full Regional train. We will get to NYC 2 hours late if we are lucky.

I sit here in a single seat next to a Buddhist monk, typing as we putt across coastal Connecticut. Kiddo sits across the aisle playing Subway Surfer on the iPad without a trace of irony.  I wonder where my simplicity went.

But hey, its an adventure!

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Situational Awareness

For a while now I have been endeavoring to teach Kiddo situational awareness.  This is largely centered around parking lots and traffic, things like “Don’t put yourself between a moving vehicle and a stationary object,” and “don’t walk behind any car which could back up.”  It will eventually extend to the things any young woman needs to know when walking alone at night.

Today we had a slightly different opportunity to emphasize awareness:

  • If you are driving on a snowy interstate highway with two clear lanes and two slushy ones, which lane should you use?
  • If you chose wrongly and roll your SUV over, you should remember to put it in park and stop the engine before you climb out.
  • And finally, if there are no serious injuries and someone has already called 911, this is not a safe place to be in your personal Volkswagen.

The first two points were graphically demonstrated.  I explained the third as we drove away from the now-smoking SUV and its embarrassed owner.

Why I Shoot Film

I bought a typewriter today.  This will become relevant shortly.

Defenders of film photography often focus on the technical aspects.  They expound about how they are forced to slow down and plan each exposure, or about how they can control the entire process from start to finish, or about the ‘feel’ of creating an image in the darkroom.

All of these are valid points, but they aren’t the biggest one.

I bought a typewriter today.  The seller posted it on Craigslist, and it is a model I have been seeking.  He had a garage full of items gleaned from estate sales, which he resells as a side business.  On the shelf next to my typewriter was this:

More accurately, there were eight trays of vintage slides, almost 1000 images, sitting there neglected.  This image is a random selection from the top tray.

I have no idea who the subjects are, but the slide is at least 50 years old.  It was abandoned and neglected, yet it cleans up wonderfully and remains fully functional.  You simply cannot say that about modern digital photography or inkjet prints.  I have already lost images to crashes, media failure, or simply poor organization. Backups are not foolproof.

No one will ever find an old laptop at a flea market and exclaim, “Look at these cool JPGs I found,” yet with proper storage the photos I create today should outlive me.  Hopefully they will bring joy to my family or even some random person who finds them in a dusty garage.

A challenge for 2015

I seem to have volunteered to be a contributor at for 2015.

I will be shooting at least one roll of film a week and posting as regularly as possible.

I also might have made a darkroom-related resolution over there.

Here goes nothing. . .